Saturday, August 16, 2014

Back from Alaska

We flew from Anchorage to Illinois, arriving after midnight. It was dark, and the days were shorter. The next morning we learned that a local group who sponsored exchange students from Spain were suddenly in need of host families. They were in an "immersion" English language program. Our daughter agreed to house one of the girls, and we offered the guest suite of our condo to the group's chaperon, a teacher from north of Madrid.

Returning to O'Hare Airport only two days later, we held signs to help the arriving students find us in the welcoming crowd. Celia, a delightful high school student from Madrid who spoke perfect English, stayed with our daughter, 

Celia arrives from Spain 20140630

Our granddaughters loved having a new "big sister" for a few weeks.

Celia Cari Graci at Portillos 20140709

Fernando, the teacher, was great company. Both were treated like family.

Jackie Fernando 20140709

We soon found time to check out the local Bald Eagle nest at Mooseheart. I could find only two of the three eaglets. They appear big enough to have already fledged.

Bald Eagle juvenile 3-20140705

Bald Eagle juvenile 20140705

Amid all the excitement of showing our guests the sights of the big city, we were able to walk in nearby Hawk's Bluff Park.

Hawk's Bluff Park Batavia IL 2-20140708

The birds were rather quiet, as breeding season is just about over for most species, and they are undergoing molt. Gray Catbirds were active.

Gray Catbird 20140708

A Song Sparrow seemed interested in our presence.

Song Sparrow 20140608

Blue Jays alerted the world to our intrusion.

Blue Jay 20140708

A Twelve-spotted Skimmer was on the lookout for the numerous mosquitoes.

Twelve-spotted Skimmer 20140608

Great Egrets explored the lily pads on the Fox River.

Great Egret 2-20140705

Common Yellowthroats sang vigorously in the grasslands.

Common Yellowthroat 7-20140704

The Japanese Garden at Fabyan Park in Geneva reminded me of an Impressionist painting, so that is how I processed my photo (click on photo to enlarge it).

Japanese Garden in Fabyan FP Impressionist 20140705

There is no need to travel far and wide to find beauty, but I'm sure glad I cruised to Alaska one more time!


  1. A wonderful welcome! Years ago we hosted students and it was a marvelous experience. Great photos and I also loved your nature shots. Amazing ones of the young eagles and your other birds and dragonfly, as well as that photo turned into a work of art were a treat to see.

  2. love your birds! how sweet of you to play hosts!

  3. What a great experience for both you and your guests. Wonderful shots of the eagles. They're all grown up.

  4. I think its good to stay busy - but there are limits!! Nice one.

    Cheers - Stewart M - Melbourne

  5. Gorgeous park!! I bet you and your guests had a super time of it all!!! The eagles are fantastic as are all your other bird shares....I especially like the songster...the yellowthroat!!

    Thanks for sharing your link this weekend at the Bird D'Pot.

  6. What a great thing to have the students stay with you! I love the egret shot a lot. All your photos are awesome to see.

  7. great image of the eglet. :)

    good to be on tour, but good to be home too. :)

  8. I have a friend who has hosted exchange students several times. They love meeting and watching over these students. Beautiful birds!

  9. When I used to travel a lot, Alaska was one of my favorite trips. Took the helicopter over the glaciers.

  10. How exciting having the exchange student! She looks like she is fitting right in! And I love your bird photos. Really nice post!

  11. Thanks for linking up on Rubbish Tuesday. Love that barn on Flickr, but don't know how to comment. It is an awesome pic!

  12. Hi! What a wonderful experience for both you and your Spanish guest. My daughter also has exchange studants staying with her sometimes. Love all your bird shots, and also love the way you processed the Japanese Garden shot,... very artistic!:)

  13. You are so nice to help the exchange students.. I love the eaglet shots. Great photos and post.

  14. A terrific series of birds, love the eaglet!

  15. By the way, thanks for your help with my bird ID...two other people seemed to concur as well.

  16. Glad to see you having fun hosting those nice people.
    Absolutely loved the facial expression on the eagle fledgeling in the first picture.

  17. how super that you could assist with accommodation like you did; that was a great gesture. Sounds like a really fabulous holiday you did in Alaska; though when I see your wonderful blog-header I almost wonder how you could up and leave it :)! That too, at dusk, is a really beautiful photo. While I enjoyed all your so interesting post Wally, to see a Common Yellowthroat would be a treat for me.

  18. Gorgeous shots of the birds. The young eagle is a beauty. I love your painterly image og the JApanese garden.

  19. It's good to share cultures across the world. Hope you booked your ticket to Spain Ken.

  20. Hi, it´s the spanish chaperon here!!! I have to say that Ken and MaryLou have been way more than hosts. They´ve been comprehensive, generous, hilarious, honest, nice, outgoing, sympathetic...It´s been a real pleasure to share almost two weeks with them and their family (Jackie & Roly and their kids, Rolando senior and Mercedes). I truly hope we can meet again. You owe me a visit.

    PS If I manage to publish my "nobel" I won´t have any problem at all with sharing benefits with you, guys!


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